Tesla Chief Designer: Model E Expected to Make Worldwide Debut at 2015 Detroit Auto Show

2 years ago by Eric Loveday 55

Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen Talks Model E Debut

Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen Talks Model E Debut (seen here at the Gigaom Roadmap 2013 Conference last month)

In an exclusive interview with Autobild, Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhausen revealed that Tesla Motors will most likely unveil its highly anticipated Model E to the world at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS).

After the Model X Comes the Highly Anticipated Model E

After the Model X Comes the Highly Anticipated Model E

Via Google translate, here’s what von Holzhausen stated in regards to when the world will first see the Model E:

Probably at the show in Detroit beginning in 2015.”

We still believe that the Model E won’t launch for public sales until 2017, but boy are we eager to catch a glimpse of it come 2015.

On the topic of Model E design, von Holzhausen commented (again via Google translate):

“The model leads Tesla to a new level. The car will show what we are about: to build electric cars for the masses. It is not a small model S, we do not want a unit face like Audi.”

von Holzhausen stated that the Model E won’t have crazy styling like the BMW i3, so expect it to be somewhat conventional looking, as the Model S is, but to be uniquely different from the S and X.

Source: Autobild

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55 responses to "Tesla Chief Designer: Model E Expected to Make Worldwide Debut at 2015 Detroit Auto Show"

  1. IDK says:

    Excellent news. Now will any pictures or specs leak before then? πŸ™‚

    1. We have a lease on a Honda Fit EV that finishes in August of 2016. We consider that our bridge car until the Model E from Tesla comes out. With any luck that will be the last car we ever buy. I don’t ever buy another ICE powered car. We love the electric drive. We aren’t in love with the econobox after our Acura but it isn’t a bad compromise.

      1. Gene R. says:

        Bryon,
        I have a Model S for the last 8 months. Never going back. You might see some used Model S’ showing up that maybe you could swing. The ability to go on long road trips is now, life passes by, I’m doing lots of long distance weekends and vacations!

  2. CSS says:

    Please, no more large fake ‘radiator’ grill on the front!
    Embrace your inner EV Tesla πŸ™‚

    1. Anon says:

      Tesla’s always called it a “nose cone” on the final prototype S, although an early S concept did have an actual grill… I actually like the bold graphic quality the black snoot lends to branding a look for a range of related vehicles.

      That said, VW has probably done the best of any mainstream automaker at styling frontends that don’t have prominent grills. And being able to sell them…

      It’s very interesting to hear Franz say the E is not an S scaled down. I take that to mean it could very well be configured similarly to the Leaf or Ford Fusion Electric. The styling language for E might also hint at what a future Model S / X refresh might look like… Can’t wait!!!

    2. Mint says:

      As humans, we have a natural proclivity to see faces in everything around us, and when it deviates too much from the norm, it gets categorized as ugly. That’s why Tesla chose to be semi-derivative in its design.

      It’s not easy to take a mouth away from a someone without making them look ugly (cue Chris Rock joke about women), so that’s going to be a challenge. GM’s EV1 looked like an alien. The LEAF Aero Style looks great with the sharp edges imitating a large grille, unlike the classic body shape.

      1. io says:

        Problem is, what I see in the Model S ‘grille’ is a nose, not a mouth. And it’s huge, disturbingly so, especially on a light-color vehicle.
        I’m also not fond of the “plastic” touch it gives. I like the more usual, Aston-Martin-style grille look on the Focus…

        1. Stephen Pace says:

          A guy in Houston had his white Tesla Model S nose cone covered with a carbon fiber wrap with some chrome and I think it came out pretty good.

          1. Mercedes-Benz says:

            Ahh another person complaining about the nose cone, it looks great

          2. Mercedes-Benz says:

            now thats ugly

          3. Anderlan says:

            Since I saw the light up jack-o-lantern S nose around Halloween I’m expecting a giant (questionably legal) glowing red nose any day now.

    3. Frank Smith says:

      I agree that a grillless design would look better. Something similiar to the 73-present Corvette. The Corvette “grills” are located under the bumper and barely noticeable when looking down at the car.

    4. Raymondjram says:

      The fake “grill” is better than the look of the ugly Leaf!

  3. Brian says:

    I can’t wait! I still believe that Tesla will deliver the first Model E in 2016, even if it’s December 31st. Not that it matters to me – I can’t afford one of these during this decade. Maybe by 2020, I can pick up a good used one!

    I’m glad they’re staying with a conventional looking car. There are new possibilities for car design with EVs, but we also don’t want to keep going down the unconventional/weird road. I’d be happiest with something identifiably electric / Tesla, but still somewhat conventional.

    1. Bill G. says:

      Not me! I’m quite happy turning heads in my quirky-looking iMiEV. But I too can’t wait until the Model E comes out so I can pass the “i” on to one of my kids.

  4. Jay Cole says:

    I would like to put in my request now for the 2015 NAIAS to be moved to somewhere like Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas if they insist on holding this show in January.

    InsideEVs in Frankfurt? check
    Tokyo? check
    Toronto? check
    Geneva? check
    LA? check

    …even though we have like a dozen writers/contributors/associates in the US near Detroit (a couple within 50 miles), has anyone volunteered to cover it in person even though it is just 30-odd days away? No they have not!

    Sidenote not related to EVs: PCA is held at Atlantis 2nd week of January every year as well, so that would be swell too.

    1. vdiv says:

      Jay, that place does not exist. The pictures you see are all fake color. It is a conspiracy by the cruise ship companies to drag you out in the middle of the Bermuda triangle, set fire to the engine compartment and poison the food!

      There is nothing more exciting and cheerful than being in bankrupt Detroit in the middle of the winter! πŸ˜‰

    2. Raymondjram says:

      Jay, bring it to Puerto Rico! we are as American as any on the mainland, and we never get any cold weather in winter. Today (December 17th) our temperature is in the mid 80s. You can stroll in shorts and a T-shirt outside.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        Mid 80s? Yupe, I’m ok with that too then, (=

  5. lol, I’ll file some stories for you Jay. Is there a hazardous duty pay?

    Contact info on my web site.

  6. Dan Frederiksen says:

    Don’t be too excited. Given Tesla’s consistent failure to meet price targets you shouldn’t expect this 2017 car to cost less than 50k$
    I don’t see Tesla mattering in the mainstream price range in the foreseeable future.

    And that’s what we need.. we still only have bullshit cars at high prices. The Volt is super boring and feels too much like an ICE car. The Leaf is ugly and slow. iMiev isn’t exactly exciting. Neither is the Smart. Nor the Spark.
    Small boring cars can be ok if the price is reasonable. It just isn’t. And as always I’m not making unreasonable demands o sheepish ones. When I say the price is unreasonable it’s because it is. Batteries are just not that expensive. 3000$ in the Volt. Maybe less but no more. How does that more than double the price of a Cruze..
    Think a little.

    There is not a single car that comes close to the current potential. And that includes Model S. They cancelled the 40kWh version but to put things into perspective, 40kWh LGchem laptop cells cost less than 8000$.

    1. Anon says:

      I will call you, “Downer Dan”… πŸ˜‰

    2. CSS says:

      Yea, you’re right D. Dan… BS cars that just happen to have received the highest Consumer Reports rating, highest safety rating and highest consumer satisfaction rating. Center of gravity on par with a Ford GT40 with sub 5 second 0-60. Just when will they all get around to building a REAL car? I mean after all…the manufacturers have been makiing them for like three whole years now- geeze!!
      ROFL.

      1. Hello.

        Dan is upset because he believes that car manufacturers are not doing their best to provide economical electric vehicles.

        (withholding of technology)

    3. Chris O says:

      Poor Dan doesn’t quite play with a full deck but I can’t blame him for being sceptical regarding Model E’s price. Tesla says Model S will top out at a 25% gross margin which sounds great but really isn’t for a car in that price range. If we assume an average sales price of $85K that would put production cost pretty close to $70K. So it seems to me Tesla should have a real challenge offering a car that’s bound to have 80% of Model S material and component’s input at half the price it costs to build a Model S.

      1. Foo says:

        Don’t you mean, “his battery pack is just shy of a full charge”?

    4. Mint says:

      I agree that the Model E isn’t going to be $30k like so many optimists think, but it won’t be $50k either. Tesla is going to basically price match a 328i after tax credit. A performance edition will be priced like the M3.

      They’re going to want to break the 200 mile EPA rating for marketing reasons, so it’ll need 50 kWh at least, likely 55. You may think batteries aren’t that expensive, but $10k is a bigass chunk out of your budget for a car you want to sell for $45k with 25% gross margins, especially when your competitors don’t have that cost.

      A Cruze Eco Auto is $22k. A Volt is $35k and better equipped. I agree that the Volt likely has decent gross margins, but your math rather sucks.

    5. Stephen Pace says:

      I know a few folks in Houston that bought the 40kWh Tesla Model S and received it for the original price (a 60 kWh version with range limited via software). If you wanted that version, you could have ordered it. Fact is, only 4% ordered it so it wasn’t worth keeping. And you can’t compare LG laptop cells to the automotive grade Panasonic ones. Tesla picked the exact cell chemistry taking into account 20+ criteria to ensure long life for the cells, high power output, ability to SuperCharge, etc.

      Regarding Model E pricing, we’ll see. I suspect there will be a base $35k model but few will order it without some options. But if you can get a Model E nicely appointed for $50k they will fly off the lots especially given that $50k car will have the operating cost of a much cheaper car when you factor in gasoline and maintenance.

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        “you can’t compare LG laptop cells to the automotive grade Panasonic ones. Tesla picked the exact cell chemistry ”

        I don’t know any laptop that uses the larger format cells in EVs… The only EVs that use small format 18650 cells are Tesla.

        1. Dan Frederiksen says:

          of course I can compare. Tesla just made a deal with samsung for some of their cells. There is nothing special about the panasonic cell. It’s the standard cell that they sell to laptops as well.

          1. Anon says:

            If that were true, why is no one else copying Tesla’s use of these cells for EVs? Panasonic would love to sell more batteries…

            And not all of the batteries Tesla buys, end up in vehicles. Solar storage and power leveling units also need cells…

            1. Ocean Railroader says:

              The new deal Tesla made with Panasonic for two billion batteries and for over a 100,000 cars I really think at the rate they are opening up new markets for the existing Model S and Model X with in three years Tesla could easily eat up that new capacity for their existing cars.

            2. Ryan says:

              Anon; go look at the pics of the inside of the Tesla battery pack on the Tesla owners forum and you’ll see why no one copies it. If they can simplify it; that should really bring the cost down. Or just use large form factor batteries? 20 bigger batteries has to be way better then 8,000+ small ones.

              1. Anon says:

                Robots dont have issues with complexity, once properly setup. Robots also don’t have a union, take breaks, suffer emotional ups or downs, can work holidays and weekends, nor require employee benefits, etc., etc….

                Automation drops costs and speeds production. If you’re still using humans for creating / installing battery packs, you’re not serious about building EVs.

            3. Nix says:

              Anon, my best guess to why nobody is copying Tesla, is that Tesla has managed to lock up some sort of Patent that is stopping everyone else.

              Because it isn’t that other companies don’t want to use commodity cells. Tesla has provided their battery packs to other companies who want them, like Mercedes and Toytota (RAV4 EV). Selling battery packs actually has a larger profit margin for Tesla then selling cars. I can’t see how Tesla can pull all this off without there being some sort of IP that they own being involved.

              1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

                No, it’s more that they played the long game, thinking that ultimately large format cells would result in cheaper batteries. Tesla wanted the lowest current price and scalability so went 18650, although Musk’s view is that doubli gthe size would probably give the right balance between low integration costs, yield and fault-tolerance.

    6. Mercedes-Benz says:

      the Volt is the best “electric” car other than the Model S, and it is not boring, and the Smart ED is the funnest and coolest little EV on the market i know Tesla owners and exotic car owners that have the smart ED and they absolutely love it so ya…. your opinion…. invalid. but leaf is ugly yes

    7. Bill Howland says:

      Dan, I have a 2011 roadster and volt and enjoy them both.

      No getting around it, Tesla’s under Musk’s reign have “Apple-esque” pricing. When you make a vehicle that other manufacturers refuse to compete with, you can set your own price. He raised the price of a Roadster $20,000. And, while the model S is still somewhat a better value, it is still pricey. The ELR is attempting to partially compete with it,and I believe the ELR is the better value, for the driver who wants all bells and whistles.

      The Volt is expensive since GM decided to make the car so complicated, but then, at least my car has a time-proven Japanese SynergyDrive in it. Normally I hate complication (the roadster is the simplest vehicle recently on the market, whereas the Volt and ELR are the most complicated). We pay for that complication but it is, counterintuitive though it might be, very reliable.

      The Cruise is an EXCELLENT value. However, the Volt and likewise :ELR will also be considered by their owners to be excellent values since you are buying a lot of product. Scott200 here has shown an excellent analysis of a comparison between a 60 kwh S and a caddy ELR. Fully decked out, the ELR is at once both more luxurious and $14,000 less expensive.

      I don’t care for Consumer Reports at all lately, so for their insults to the ELR and child-like gushing over the S to me amount to exactly that.

      EV’s will not satisfy everyone, The products currently on the market by this very hard grader (me) are Fair to Good at this point.

      Since we are still in the developmental period for this type of vehicle, there are no super-values out there just yet. But as they say, don’t let Perfect be the enemy of Fair-Good.

    8. Nate says:

      Downer Dan, your math and choice of figures is off.

      Along with others I disagree with what you think the Volt and others drive, but that is a matter of opinion. What isn’t a matter of opinion is the facts. At my zip the Volt and Leaf TCO < Prius C or Cruze, and I'm not even in a state with a tax credit on the price of the car. Comparing sticker prices skews the facts. It would only be valid if all cars depreciated to $0 the day you bought them, and had no difference in operating cost. Good luck with that thinking!

    9. Paul Scott says:

      Hey Downer Dan, why don’t you pony up some capital and start your own auto company. You sure seem to know how to do it better than Elon, Carlos and the rest of them.

      Sheesh.

  7. GeorgeS says:

    Dan Quote:
    ” When I say the price is unreasonable it’s because it is. Batteries are just not that expensive. 3000$ in the Volt. Maybe less but no more. How does that more than double the price of a Cruze..”

    Even if the pack was 5000$ I tend to agree with Dan on that point.

    1. vdiv says:

      It’s the extra plumbing to keep things warm/cool. People have a skewed impression of the Volt, it is not as much electric as it is hydronic πŸ˜‰

      Enough with the Cruze-Volt comparisons! People making them have not driven the two.

    2. TWScrap says:

      So folks think that automotive grade battery cells are currently somewhere between $190-300 per kWh??? Pretty sure every EV manufacturer on the planet would kill to pay the upper end of that range for batteries today…

      1. Dan Frederiksen says:

        You can be pretty sure you are wrong though. I have gotten a 185$/kWh price on LGchem cells from a reseller although they could be outgoing cells at 2200mAh. But sub 200 seems to be easy even from a reseller. that means a few percent lower direct from factory, maybe more in bulk.
        That’s just a fact. But since people have sheepish minds and have some desperate need to believe the implicit mood of stupidity rather than actual facts then maybe trust Martin Eberhard when he years ago said the price was 235$/kWh. He should be somewhat of an authority in your minds. He founded Tesla Motors.

        Car makers wont kill for these prices. Car makers are just idiots. That’s why the prices are that high. In Tesla’s case it seems to be a case of being noobs at cost management on a car. And being absent minded about the importance of weight for efficiency and cost.

  8. James says:

    This is the equivalent of the “Hot Stove League” in baseball – rumors and
    tiny wisps of information to keep fans interested.

    Just the thing to get the ole juices flowin’ on a cold winter’s day in Seattle!

    Of course, we know it’s just tease talk – and that Model E currently is most
    likely a bunch of renderings on a wall somewhere deep inside the walls
    of Fremont and Space-X.

    Depending on stock performance – it wouldn’t surprise me to see some
    “leaked” video, or artist’s conceptions around Q1 2014 depending on
    NHTSA’s findings. One thing Tesla has done masterfully is keep in people’s
    heads. Car guys all know Tesla – as a story the other day related – many in the
    larger general populace merrily have no clue. Of the car-conscious crowd,
    Tesla is in deep – with the Roadster setting the pace in videos racing all sorts of
    cars. Elon knows how to work social media and financial websites – who need
    data – ANY kind of data or gossip – feuds and tough talk do great on slow news
    days too.

    I like the look of the Volt a lot – I never tire of looking at mine from all
    angles. I have some critiques, but overall, it really has a sporty feel for
    a car that can practically motate my family and haul groceries. We know
    the Tesla guys don’t like boring or oddball EVs. Expect some sort of
    ornamentation in the center of Model E’s nose because we’re accustomed
    to that two eyes and a mouth “face” the guys are talking about. No matter
    EVs don’t need gaping mouths for cooling. Sports cars get away somehow
    from that stereotype – I guess we expect them to be swoopy like a Ferrari
    or ‘Vette.

    I expect Model E to be Accord/Camry sized and seat 5, with a frunk. For
    aero it should be a hatch and hopefully have some intriguing body sur-
    facing. Parked next to a new Hyundai Elantra yesterday and it caught
    my eye. Why, I wondered, don’t most of them do this to me – and I
    realized I was looking at a loaded hot burgundy red number with
    the big top-line alloys and low profile tires. The color and stance set
    it apart from the budget models in silver I see all the time. Hyundai
    really hit it out of the ballpark for small cars IMHO with it’s risky swoops
    and raked angles. At the taillights and rear bumper it can get a bit
    overdone, but they’re selling like hotcakes so the masses must dig ’em.

  9. James says:

    Franz likes a slightly retro/rounded approach to design – and I can foresee Model E
    as a kammback-type car to increase aero on a shorter and perhaps a bit taller
    profile then Model S. I’d bet Model E will have a Camry/Accord footprint, if not
    slightly smaller. I was thinking what could be inspiration and for some odd reason
    these cars popped into my head – as far as form-factor, remember the Fisker Surf?
    OK – yeah, I know – Karmas looked like they were made of toffee and you grabbed
    the wheels and stretched it – kind of low-slung, but appealing at the same time…if
    not too looong. Now round the edges ala: say a Jaguar XK8 coupe – pop on a
    Tesla mug and logo up front and – WALA!

    Some inspirations ( push wheels out to edges for efficient packaging )

    1) Fisker Surf ( clean up tail – LOSE THE JACK NICHOLSON AS THE JOKER NOSE! +
    shorten the taffy-stretched, elongated wheelbase )

    http://cargallerryx.blogspot.com/2012/11/2013-fisker-surf.html

    2) Jaguar XK8 Coupe ( wheels out to edges – challenge to stretch cockpit w/o
    going all awkward Panamera-ish )

    http://auto.kh.cz/jaguarxk8.jpg

    3) Jaguar XKe ( all-time classic associated with class – just because )

    http://classicshowcase.com/gallery/J62-015/J62-015-002.jpg

    Kammbacks haven’t really stirred the American populace though, so I went back
    to the drawing board – and YES you heard it here first, folks – Due to the high
    sales levels of CUVs, Model E just may be one. In that vein I’ve added this photo
    link – as this is what I picture Model E as a crossover – just add Tesla nose.

    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/09/09/article-0-1BB172C4000005DC-477_634x369.jpg

    Or as a sedan, this –

    1. CSS says:

      Jaguar XKe looks great and would provide one sweet frunk!!!

    2. Raymondjram says:

      “Kammbacks haven’t really stirred the American populace though”.

      You are wrong here. There was a famous Kammback in the Chevrolet lineup many years ago: the Chevrolet Vega Kammback. I had a 1975 model for eleven years and never had any problems with it. I sold it to a racer who put in a Camaro V8 engine, transmission and rear end (they all fit!) and won races with it for years after I sold it.

      If you don’t believe me, look it up!

  10. Anon says:

    The new Ford E-Stang needs a nose cone. πŸ˜‰

  11. Steven says:

    I’ve got it marked on my calendar now.

    As to design, up wouldn’t throw rocks at a scaled down S. But I agree that a hatchback is a very practical design that is rarely pulled off well. The Ferrari FF, Jaguar XKE, and the S are notable exceptions. Yes, I know the XKE was a two seater.

    On the “realistic side”, please don’t laugh, but the older Saab 93 and Hyundai XD (Elantra GT) have their fans as well.

    1. Nix says:

      Yes, the old early 2000’s 5-door Elantra GT actually got better MPG than the sedan version, despite having substantially larger storage space.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the rear had a hatch and were shaped more like that then a traditional sedan. Maybe even more like a Subaru STI 5-door shape in the back, or even going so far as being shaped like a 4-door VW Gulf in the back.

      It could also end up with less front nose than the current S. The Fronk space is interesting and all, but the weight and cost saving from shortening the nose is hard to ignore. So maybe something more like the most recent Mercedes A-Class W176.

      It is hard to know whether Tesla is going to buck the US Sedan trend, and go with a more European design, or just put out a very traditional looking US sedan that shares the same basic shape as every other 4-door sedan out there.

  12. viralk says:

    Did anyone mention this before, that Tesla is putting out Model S, Model X and E to complete the range? S.E.X. ? Have to love it.. lol….

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      They also trademarked Model Y. (That’ll be the CUV version of the Model E).

      1. Foo says:

        S.E.X.Y.

  13. Alan says:

    Viralk, I swear I just read the article and I thought the same thing – I was scrolling to the bottom to leave my witty remark when I saw your post – Model S, then X, now E – hmmm…
    For Tesla’s sake,let’s hope what they all say is true that “sex” sells :O).